Just For Kids

A vacation the The Great Smoky Mountains National Park gives kids of all ages a opportunity to get back to nature and learn about plant and animal life, history, and the ecosystem.  Here are some helpful tips of some fun ways kids can get involved.

Park Activities

Become a Junior Ranger.  Kids can earn a badge by participating in specially-designed programs such as blacksmithing, pottery, venturing to learn about insects and other wildlife, or becoming a nature detective and identifying animal signs and tracks.  Age-specific booklets are available at visitor centers and guide kids ages 5 to 12 through a variety of activities.

Walk with a park ranger.  Get the real scoop on nature during a ranger-guided walk or attend a slide show at designated campgrounds.  Check out the park newspaper for times and topics.

Attend Discovery Camp.  Participate in a three-day program at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, designed specifically for children ages 9 through 12.

Watch Millers Grind Corn and Wheat.  Visit the water-powered Mingus Mill near Oconaluftee Visitor Center, and Cable Mill in Cades Cove to learn how flour and cornmeal are made.

Take a Field Trip.  The University of Tennessee Smoky Mountain Field School offers family programs on topics such as reptiles and amphibians, insects and animal tracks.  Call (865) 974-0150 for more information.

Listen to Southern Appalachian Stories.  Check at visitor centers for the times and locations of these stories about settlers, the Cherokee and even ghosts.

Take a Hayride in Cades Cove.  Mornings are the best time to see wildlife from a hay wagon.  Call Cades Cove Riding Stables for reservations.

Go Fishing.  Nearly 700 miles of fishable streams meander down the smokies and spill in Fontana Lake and three prongs of Little Pigeon River.  Brook, rainbow, and brown trout and other sport fish thrive in the park.  You'll need a valid Tennessee fishing license, for sale in local communities, if you are 16 years or older (13 years or older for non-residents in Tennessee). Always follow state fishing regulations.

Activities in Local Communities

The gateway communities near Great Smoky Mountain National Park offer a variety of fun, kid-friendly events in Cherokee and Gatlinburg.  Check out local chambers of commerce for more kid friendly events and activities.


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